The impetus to put the environment and sustainable development at the centre of the education agenda can be traced back to the early 1970s. In these early days of the modern environmental movement, the UN’s Stockholm Conference of 1972 concluded that environmental education was ‘essential in order to broaden the basis for. . . enlightened opinion and responsible conduct’.
I was rather surprised how early it all started. I was a bit ‘environmental’ in the early 1970s, at a time when hardly anybody else took much interest in it. After that time, I gradually lost interest.
So, leaving university in the mid-1970s, I seem to have missed a profound change in the education system. And not being a parent, I’ve also missed the following:
This revolution in the purpose of education appears to be not only concerned
with changing the way children think but also about changing the behaviour
of adults, using their children as a lever. The chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra
Pachauri has suggested that a focus on children is the top priority for bringing
about societal change, and that by ‘sensitising’ children to climate change, it
will be possible to get them to ‘shame adults into taking the right steps’.
Pachauri’s ideas are echoed in UNICEF’s manual on climate change education,
which, it is claimed, is about helping children to become ‘agents of change’.
So not only are chiiiildren being used to justify all kinds of draconian measures on the one hand, but they’re also being used a shock troops against parents on the other hand. They have a dual use.
But in addition, climate change and related
areas such as energy use were to be taught across the curriculum, appearing
in chemistry, physics, biology, and citizenship lessons. And by accident or
design, the result has been the teaching of one particular dogma rather than
a balanced approach.
Perhaps this explains why, despite growing climate scepticism about global warming, the emphasis on climate change is being maintained by government and media, as if nothing was happening. And it’s because the educational (or re-educational) programme has been under way for 40 years, under both Conservative and Labour governments. There’s far too much invested in it.
And it’s scaring the wits out of lots of children.
In a survey of 500 American pre-teens,
it was found that one in three children aged between 6 and 11 feared that
the Earth would not exist when they reached adulthood because of global
warming and other environmental threats.105 In the UK, a 2006 survey found
that climate change was children’s top worry. . .
Montford and Shade conclude:
There can be little doubt that the provision of a rigorous education has now
given way to a highly politicised brainwashing of growing minds with ‘climate
change’ and energy scares as motivators and ‘sustainable development’ as the
‘solution’ . Gone are the days when the education system hoped to generate young people equipped to form their own opinions on complex scientiﬁc, sociological and political issues. Instead the education system, subverted by a green political movement, now seeks conformity with environmentalist orthodoxy, with any challenge to its vivid certainties viewed as transgressions to be ignored or treated with contempt.
The seriousness of what we have seen is hard to overstate. The fact that children’s ability to pass their exams – and hence their future life prospects – appears to depend on being able to demonstrate their climate change orthodoxy is painfully reminiscent of life in communist-era Eastern Europe or Mao’s China. Politicians seem to have given the nod to this process, effectively handing much of the curriculum to green activists. The question of whether what is taught in the classroom is scientiﬁc or political, balanced or biased, true or false seems to have gone unexamined.
Maybe smoking bans are the least of it all? Maybe they’re just one small component of a general re-education programme that’s been under way for a long time? One that involves all values being changed, not just one or two of them.